Two beady eyes appear in the brush. Paws slowly slink forward, softly landing on wet leaves without a sound. Slow movements go unnoticed by the keenest of eyes. A predator creeps closer to its prey. It’s almost there, and the unsuspecting prey animal is none the wiser. That’s also what it’s like to be a predator hunter and have one of these animals creep up on you. Except, hopefully you see it coming long before it gets too close or picks you off.
Most predator hunters focus on coyotes; after all, these are the most abundant of predators in North America. They span the Lower 48, Canada, and Mexico. But they aren’t the only options for those who like hunting toothy critters. Bobcats, foxes, and even mountain lions are on the table. As such, from coast to coast, here are four predator hunting trips to consider tackling this winter.
Predator Hunting Trip No. 1: Western Coyote Hunt
Most coyote hunters live in the East, and dream of going West. It’s time to make that happen. There are plenty of states that offer great coyote hunting (at least in pockets), some states stand out and offer greater calling experiences. Some of these include Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.
Arizona doesn’t allow trapping on public lands, which boosts the numbers there. Unless selling the firs (which requires a trapping license), Nevada might just be the cheapest place to hunt. Texas also has plenty of bobcats and fox, as add-on hunts, too. Regardless of the details, each of the mentioned states offer big incentives to go there.
In most places, the best time to go on this adventure is February. That’s the peak of the breeding season for coyotes, which is when these animals are most active. Furthermore, food sources are more limited and therefore these are more receptive to calling.
DIY Option: Most of the key coyote states have an abundance of public lands. Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico are rich with it. Colorado has more than 22 million acres of public. Montana is 44 percent public. Wyoming is more than 55 percent public. Of course, at 95 percent private lands, Texas has very little of it.
Guided Option: According to GuideFitter, more than 160 outfitters are offering guided coyote hunts. Many of these are in the key states previously mentioned.
HuntStand Help: While landowners are ever-increasingly saying “no” to deer hunters, predator hunters get the green light more than any other hunters. That’s good news for coyote hunters, and HuntStand can help secure that much-needed permission, even on the fly. Merely consult the Property Info map layer to secure leads on potential honey holes.
Geared for the Hunt:
Those who go on that western coyote hunting trip of a lifetime will benefit from a good e-caller, such as the HME Eichler Single Game Call. It offers a maximum of 120db output and sports 8GB internal memory. It also features two external jacks for secondary speakers, auxiliary output to trigger motorized (and synced) decoys, sound overlay (playing two sounds at once), 40 pre-loaded calls, customizable quicksets, and much more. Use code PRED50 to get 50 percent off!
Predator Hunting Trip No. 2: Middle-America Bobcat Hunt
At approximately 21 inches tall, 35 inches long, and 25 pounds heavy, the bobcat isn’t a big animal. But it is a big challenge. It takes years of practice to become highly skilled, but fortunately, some places shorten that learning curve with higher populations and hunter-friendly habitat types.
Oklahoma allows hunters to take more bobcats than most states. Texas has no season limit, which is also good for longer hunts. Interestingly, Georgia is a large producer of bobcat harvests. Oftentimes, that number ranges from 2,000-3,000. Kentucky also falls into that range, with 1,500-3,000 annually. Missouri kicks up about 4,000-5,000. And Kansas is habitually a top producer at 5,000-7,000.
DIY Option: While Kentucky, Kansas, and Texas have minimal amounts of public lands, Georgia and Missouri have decent amounts. Remember, any areas that no longer permit trapping (certain public lands), are key hotspots for bobcats and other predators.
Guided Option: According to GuideFitter, it has nearly 90 bobcat outfitter listings. The majority of this are in the Southwest, as well as middle America.
HuntStand Help: Bobcats are very adaptable and live in a wide range of habitat types. In fact, they are found throughout the continental 48 states, Canada, and Mexico. But they do tend to weave a common thread regarding where they spend many of their daytime hours. They oftentimes den up around rocky areas, or where those aren’t present, fallen logs. Use HuntStand’s variety of aerial map layers to find rocky places.
Geared for the Hunt: Bobcats are cunning. Oftentimes, they need both visual and audible confirmation to completely commit. To that end, the HME Mantis Pro Decoy is a great product to include in the hunt. Its motorized assembly form fits to the attachment and gives those crazy cats something to look at as they creep into range. It comes with a quiet motor, adjustable speed control, lifelike motion, and more.
Predator Hunting Trip No. 3: Western Mountain Lion Hunt
Mountain lion hunting is a big thing out West, and those who hope to chase that adventure have some big challenges ahead. These animals aren’t easy to hunt, and whether you go with hounds, or not, it’s going to be a difficult hunt. It takes serious skill and understanding.
DIY Option: Fortunately, several states are popular destinations for mountain lion hunts. Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Utah are excellent destinations. Each of these have vast public lands, which are perfect for areas that allow hound hunting.
Guided Option: For first-time hunters, guided hunts are oftentimes the best route. According to GuideFitter, it has more than 200 outfitter listings available for hunting mountain lions.
HuntStand Help: Mountain lion hunting takes part largely on public lands. Use the app’s hunting lands and public lands layers to find potential hotspots.
Geared for the Hunt: Those who do plan a mountain lion hunt will need a good day pack. The Tenzing TZ 2220 is a great option. It has 11 compartments, eight organizational pockets, and a 2,400-cubic-inch volume. Plus, it weighs only 5 pounds. Furthermore, it has a fold-out rain cover and is H20 compatible. It also has a fold-out bow and gun carrying boot, which is necessary for those longer hikes.
Predator Hunting Trip No. 4: Eastern Fox Hunt
The American red fox and gray fox are rarities in some places, but quite abundant in others. Still, there’s no better place to chase these animals than the East, especially the lower portion of the Northeast region. Fox hunting has a rich history there, and the heritage is incredible. These animals might be only 15 inches tall, 35 inches long, and 10-12 pounds, but they have a big following.
There are several key states to try. Three of the best include Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. According to some sources, Virginia has more fox hunting clubs than any other state in the nation.
DIY Option: Maryland has 64 public WMAs totaling about 130,000 acres. And Virginia offers more than 3.5 million acres of public via eight different public land types, including national forests, Public Access (PALS), federal refuges, military areas, state forests, state parks, WMAs, and more. Pennsylvania offers numerous options, too, including the Hunter Access Program (HAP), state game lands, etc. Find a public place to hunt using the Pennsylvania Public Lands Mapping Center.
Guided Option: Several eastern outfitters are listed for predator hunting on GuideFitter. These are potential destinations to consider for an eastern fox hunt.
HuntStand Help: While foxes don’t get quite the press as bobcats and coyotes, these animals are very adept at staying alive and sniffing out a hunter. Because of this, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the wind direction and continue to monitor it throughout the hunt. HuntStand’s HuntZone wind map is perfect for this, and even shows hourly predictions days in advance. Furthermore, foxes are really drawn to mixed habitat, especially areas with a lot of CRP, ditches, drainages, small pockets of cover, and other areas that hold an abundance of small prey animals. Use aerial maps to find these terrain features.
Geared for the Hunt: For those who are all-in on prey sounds, the Flextone Dying Rabbit is an excellent option for calling wily foxes. It’s a great option for close- and long-range calling. Its flexible body helps control volume and tone very well. Use code PRED50 to get 50 percent off!
Overall, there are many different predator hunting adventures throughout America. But the four options outlined here are excellent routes for those seeking something they’ve never done before. Good luck, and safe hunting.